An image of Mucius Scaevola in the presence of Lars Porsenna

Matthias Stomer

(Netherlands, Italy circa 1600 – post 1650)

Mucius Scaevola in the presence of Lars Porsenna

Other titles:
Muscius Scaevola in the Presence of Lars Porsena
Not on display
Further information

In the dazzling comet's tail of painters called the Caravaggisti - the admirers of Caravaggio who kept alive his flame for more than a century - Matthias Stomer stands out for his considered temperament and cool execution. Almost an academic of the movement, though never an imitative hack, Stomer built a body of work on the basis of subjects like this. Antiquity in general and Roman history in particular were his primary source material, reflecting a classicism which had little to do with Caravaggio's own almost exclusively biblical interests. Stomer's 'Mucius Scaevola in the presence of Lars Porsenna' could be seen to anticipate the high moral tone, and consequent sober rendition, found in the works of later neoclassical figures such as David. This painting, after all, posits a test of faith by fire within a resolutely imperial context - precisely David's territory. There is a poorly preserved variant in Messina, datable to this Dutch-born painter's Sicilian period.

AGNSW Handbook, 1999.

early 1640s
oil on canvas
152.6 x 205.7 cm stretcher; 167.5 x 220.5 x 6.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1970
Accession number
Prince Branciforte di Mazzarino, 17th century, Caltanissetta/Sicily/Italy
Ettore Viancini, pre 24 Apr 1968, Venice/Italy, Purchased by Agnew's from Ettore Viancini, 24 April 1968. This was possibly a joint holding, Viancini may also have been a dealer. Agnew's stock number J. 6067
Agnew's, London, 24 Apr 1968-24 Apr 1970, London/England, Purchased by the AGNSW from Agnew's 1970